Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.
I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Paris: Putting On The Ritz
Having put the many comforts of Harry's Bar behind me, I strolled a couple of blocks down the Rue Daunou to the Rue de la Paix, turned left, and again found myself facing the impressive facade of the Hotel Ritz. I was dressed in my black LL Bean all weather jacket, tan wide-wale Brooks Brothers cords and brown walking shoes. I was wet looking on the exterior due to my adventures out and about earlier in the day. On the interior, I was dry because of my superior clothing. Farther on the interior, I was enjoying the benefit of a couple of superior Sidecar cocktails from Rene the barman at Harry's.
I was glad for the lingering effect of the Sidecars because I was certainly not dressed to walk into the front door of the Hotel Ritz. As I approached the doors, a very glamorous, very tall, very young woman strode out to a waiting Bentley. The driver ushered her into the back seat and closed the door. Two doormen struggled to put numerous shopping bags and boxes into the trunk. I peered about, thinking I had wandered into a movie shoot and was about to be dragged off by gendarmes. No. This is the usual sort of thing that happens at the front door of the Ritz at five on a rainy Monday afternoon.
I will say that the doormen and front entry staff were very friendly. One took my jacket and cap and another relieved me of what was left of my five dollar umbrella. The interior of the Ritz entryway and main lobby hall is very opulent as one would expect. Still, nobody seemed to mind that rivulets were running off of my LL Bean jacket onto whatever I approached. I saw a young woman at the maitre' stand for a restaurant and approached her, being careful to keep a good distance so no rivulet would despoil her outstanding Little Black Dress. I asked where the Hemingway Bar might be and in reply she gave a full-on Parisian pouty look.
But monsieur, it closed last week for three years!
Apparently a Saudi prince or some such person has bought the hotel and is doing a "renovation" of certain things including the Hemingway Bar. It had "closed its doors" seven days earlier. From what recently happened to my beloved Pump Room bar in Chicago under similar circumstances, I am not expecting a good outcome. Had I been able to see the pre-closure Hemingway Bar, it would have looked like this...
Just my sort of place, Hem or no Hem. In the event, I was not about to abandon either my search for the world's most expensive cocktail, not the Sidecar Challenge begun at Harry's New York Bar so I had to change plans. I headed to the Ritz' Vendome Bar instead ....
...a lovely room but not at all my sort of "bar". There was a "bar" in the Vendome "bar" however and I took one of the four stools. As I did, it occurred to me that nobody had ever sat at this bar before. It just had that unused feel about it. I peered about me at the ladies and gentlemen dressed to the nines at tables and in quiet nooks scattered around. Several had their heads close together in whispered conversation. I think the other bar patrons thought I was a private detective from an outlying arrondissement. Or a paparazzi.
The barman Hugo however was superb and very nice as well. He put an engraved napkin before me and said "you were looking for the Hemingway Bar weren't you"? Apparently the only conclusion to be derived from a fellow dressed in LL Bean, without a supermodel date, who actually sat at the bar. When he found out I was on "mon premier voyage a Paris" he asked lots of questions about what I had seen and gave me lots of great tips for the upcoming days. He also made me a Sidecar and put no less than five silver bowls of snacks in front of me. The cocktail was first rate, as were the snacks. I would rate the Ritz Sidecar in a dead heat with the version provided by Harry's Bar. Perfection. After trying the wonderful selection of finger foods, enjoying my Sidecar and declining a second, Hugo gracefully slid the tab folder in front of me. I creaked it open...55 Euros...a smooth $70 [USD]. Perhaps not the most expensive in the world, but a new record pour moi. I slipped from the room and I think all the chic couples breathed a bit easier. A bit tired by then, I walked back to my hotel in the chill drizzle. I needed a nap to reconstitute myself before dinner. You see, I had spotted a very promising little place the day before and I was dying to try it out. It was located next to a very famous book store in a little white house...
In my early 60s, widower, father and itinerant storyteller. I am a putative jazz singer, poet and novelist, dedicated to mining every minute of life for the veins of pleasure they contain. My motto is "Dum Vivimus, Vivamus"..."While we Live--LET US LIVE".